>AT&T and RIM caught the smartphone industry somewhat off-guard today. Three important announcements bellowed from the smartphone giant, RIM, today as the new Blackberry 9800, the Torch, was carried forth unto the world. RIM also released Blackberry 6 and a Blackberry 6 SDK for Java today, too.

Please hold your applause until the end…

While the Torch is something your current Blackberry friend might not hold so high as to make it difficult to talk into, or see, will it be enough to stave off the up-and-coming iPhone?

Weighing in at almost 6 ounces, the “Torch” may feel like you are holding one. The torch is packing a lot, though. Like a 624Mhz processor with 512MB of memory, a 3.2″ (360×480) touch sensitive screen, a slide-out backlit QWERTY keyboard, and a 5MP camera, capable of shooting 640×480 video. Like most other smartphones, the Torch has a GPS on-board, offers free AT&T Wi-Fi, where available, and comes standard with 4GB of built-in storage. You will probably want to add more, so a microSD/SDHD slot is available for an additional 32GB of storage.

But does the Torch offer enough to keep current customers happy, attract new customers, and hold off the iPhone dogs? RIM is betting Blackberry 6 will handle all three concerns.

Blackberry 6, supposedly, has been geared for the social networker. The Torch and Blackberry 6 will handle Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (does anyone still use that?), plus support for the Blackberry Messaging Service, and RSS feeds. AT&T users will continue to enjoy (?) SMS and MMS support, too. A couple of additional features might come in handy, like the ability to embed location information in a text message. In other words, you could send someone information about where you want to meet, or where something is located, and tuck that info into your text message. Blackberry 6 also connects users to over 50 web-based video feed services, like youTube. Users can record, upload, and download video content directly to their Blackberry.

The new BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone is introduced at a news conference in New York August 3, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCI TECH BUSINESS)

While AT&T execs and RIM execs are excited, or at least act that way – after all, three major U.S. smartphone makers have now outted products – I honestly do not see much to get excited about.

For example, no support for tethering, being able to bind your laptop to your Blackberry to get a network connection. In rural areas, or primitive areas, that is a nice feature to have. At least, none of the reviews nor RIM’s own press release mention tethering. The screen is still small, a common complaint among current Blackberry users. The new 9800 uses the Webkit browser, however on the small screen, at that resolution, I fail to see the convenience. Finally, other smartphones, such as the Droid and iPhone, offer faster processors.

In the end, while the 9800 might be known as the “Torch,” I don’t see it igniting anything.

Source: RIM Media Release

Copyright (C) Michael Busby

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